CfAS at the SAAs

The Society for American Archaeology (SAA) annual meeting is loud, rambunctious, and invigorating. With more than 4,600 attendees, the New Orleans meeting did not disappoint. CfAS took advantage of the meetings to hold two events: a discussion on synthesis and a reception for Partners and Associates.

CfAS discussion of synthesis. Slated for an hour, it went much longer with about 20 participants attending, drawn from European and US government agencies, CRM firms, archaeoinformatic providers, NGOs, and academic institutions. The discussion touched on many issues central to synthesis, including the definition of synthesis, the nature of synthetic research, the importance of collaboration, and FAIR and CARE data issues. No central definition emerged nor was a single approach privileged. Still, most felt a defining characteristic of synthesis is evidenced based research that yields emergent results not possible with case studies. Another topic discussed was the issue of relevance. Is it possible for the results of archaeological synthesis to influence public policy and/or public opinion? And, if so, how do we communicate these results in ways that are meaningful for policy makers and the public? This led to a discussion of heritage management, both in terms of including archaeologists in the heritage field in CfAS working groups as well as synthetic topics that might be of interest to land-managing agencies.

CfAS Associate Jen Birch speaks during the open discussion in New Orleans.

CfAS Reception. About 50 people (maximum allowed) attended the reception. In addition to CfAS co-President Jeff Altschul and CCSA Director Scott Ortman, four CfAS Associates were asked to speak about their experience with CfAS working groups and their general view of synthetic research—Amy Thompson, Jessica Munson, Martin Furholt, and Gary Feinman. Martin presented a European perspective on synthetic research as viewed from Kiel University. Amy and Jessica described the importance of CfAS’ commitment to diversity and inclusion, particularly to early career scholars and archaeologists are small schools. Gary emphasized the importance of providing an archaeological perspective on contemporary issues. These presentations were followed by ad hoc speakers including Scott Ingram, Eric Kaldahl, Kevin Pape, and Eszter Banffy. The reception allowed CfAS members to meet and network. Ideas for working groups were bandied about including the role of money in complex societies, the integration of natural and cultural resource management, and the use of collaborative synthesis as a vehicle for bringing indigenous thought and interests to bear on contemporary issues.

Amerind President Eric Kaldahl speaks at the CfAS reception in New Orleans

If you missed these discussions have no fear. CfAS is planning another reception for the EAA meetings in Rome later this year. Stay tuned.

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